Here are some notes, analysis, and musing on the USC game. I am eschewing a traditional preview because if you have not been reading about this game since March I cannot help you now. Here are some things I will be looking and/or praying for on Saturday.
Just like everyone else, I cannot wait to see how much Pryor plays and when. I believe it will be a lot and early, because not playing him simply does not make sense. I am not saying he is going to come in and play half of the snaps, but I think you will see him enter in the middle of series if the situation warrants it – say, 3rd and 1. If a particular play suits him well put him in for that play. They can always take him out on the next play.
Who's on deck? Tressel said Herron will start in Beanie's absence and I think most fans would agree with that call. I thought Herron showed deceptive power against OU and certainly capable of breaking some big runs. Still, I think Saine's big game experience is valuable and I hope he is the main backup. Even more, I hope to see both of them on the field at the same time. I am not saying it takes two tailbacks to replace to Beanie ... actually, that is exactly what I am saying.
With Beanie out, I will not be surprised if the offense operate out of the shotgun more often trying to spread the field in order to neutralze (however slight) USC's defensive speed. If the USC defense is going to show a weakness it is going to be on their line so running straight at them might be beneficial, but still think the spread will allow the Buckeyes to get more players involved. Herron can run inside but at this point I think it may be wise to pass to set up the run.
How aggressive is the defensive staff going to be? I would like to see an aggressive game plan on as well, but I think it is imperative on defense. The Buckeyes’ defense is so talented that they can change the shape and tone of the game. If they are disrupting USC’s offense, getting pressure on Sanchez, and causing a turnovers it allows the offense to be more patient because they are not playing catch-up. Some press coverage would nice every once and a while.
Can Ohio State’s offensive line control the line of scrimmage? USC’s defensive line is good but not 2004 vintage. Can the O-line perform in a way it was not been able to against Florida and LSU? If so, Boeckman and Herron can have their best possible games. If not, the offense will have zero rhythm. Ohio State does not need to pile up 450 yards, just play that field position game that can work so well.
Can the Buckeyes dull some of USC’s swagger? The Trojans feed on emotion and if they smell blood they kill better than any program in the country. Ohio State needs to deliver that proverbial punch in the mouth early on, whether is a sack and fumble or a big hit across the middle. The Buckeyes need to show that they are there to fight.
Channeling Willis Reed: Beanie Wells is the undisputed leader of the Ohio State offense, both in and out of the huddle. Sure, he is listed as ‘out’ up but I cannot think of a greater display of leadership than sparking the Buckeyes with a Willis Reed entrance (scroll down) on Saturday night. After the teams come onto the field Beanie should make his entrance solo running down the sideline to the Ohio State bench and then take the first few carries of the game.
Can you imagine how pumped up the players and fans would be to see him run on to the field, not to mention stealing USC’s thunder right off the bat? If he cannot go all night, he can still inspire the team to perform their best. Just ask the 1970 Knicks.